Archive for March, 2011

What a Rabbi Learns from Muhammad

March 31, 2011
Muslim and Jew

Muslim and Jew

I first studied Islam when I was a student at UCLA almost 50 years ago, Then again while I was in Rabbinical school. Over the years I continued to read the Qur’an and other Islamic books. I read these books as the Prophet taught his followers in a Hadith “not as a believer, and not as a disbeliever”. What does that mean? The Qur’an, of course, is sacred scripture for Muslims. A disciple of Muhammad named Abu Huraira relates, “The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah’s Apostle said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah, and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.’ ” Following Muhammad’s teaching I too neither believe nor disbelieve in the Qur’an. If I believed in the Qur’an I would be a member of the Muslim Ummah (community). But I cannot disbelieve in the Qur’an because I believe that Muhammad is a prophet and I respect the Qur’an as a kindred revelation, to a kindred people, in a kindred language. In fact, the people, the language and the theology are closer to my own people, language and theology than that of any other on earth.

I would like to begin by sharing my understanding of several Ahadith that have taught me about my own religion. My understanding is reflected in my application (gloss) of each insight from my perspective as a Liberal/Reform Rabbi. They are all from Bukhari: Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded. (Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38)

Gloss: The statement against becoming extremists needs to be taught in every house of prayer in the world. This applies of course, to political extremists as well as religious extremists who always prefer the stricter path to the more lenient way. For example, both Islam and Judaism teach the importance of sacred slaughter of meat, and the avoidance of certain animals for food. In Islam the rules are simpler and fewer than in Orthodox Judaism. Most Liberal/Reform Rabbis regard the increasingly restrictive developments in kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), especially for Passover, as a counterproductive, overburdening of the people. The expansion of restrictions on Shabbat activities over many centuries is also seen by most Liberal/Reform Rabbis as a counterproductive, overburdening of the joy of Shabbat. Muhammad wisely differentiates between extremism and striving to be near perfect (no one is perfect) which involves a rejection of extremism. Just trying hard to do well will be rewarded.

Narrated ‘Aisha and Ibn’ Abbas: On his deathbed Allah’s Apostle put a sheet over his-face and when he felt hot, he would remove it from his face. When in that state (of putting and removing the sheet) he said, “May Allah’s Curse be on Jews and Christians for they build places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” He intended to warn (Muslims) from what they (i.e. Jews and Christians) had done. (Volume 4, Book 56, Number 660)

Gloss: Allah’s apostle strongly opposed any diversion of reverence or worship to anyone other than God. Christians, and even Jews, had started worshiping at the graves of holy men, saints and prophets. Although they claimed to be only worshiping God, their feeling that prayer was better or more effective at such sites was cursed by Muhammad. In later centuries, Muslims also began worshiping at the tombs of holy men and building places of worship near their graves. Liberal/Reform Rabbis would agree that such activity at grave sites should be condemned and could be seen as a curse. Allah’s apostle must also have realized that even the Muslim community would also produce people whose piety would lead to such errors for a Hadith on the same page says,

Narrated Abu Said: The Prophet said: “You will follow the wrong ways of your predecessors so completely and literally that if they should go into the hole of an animal, you too will go there.” We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He replied, “Who else?” (Volume 4, Book 56, # 662)

Gloss: Muhammad criticized the failings of many in the Jewish and Christian communities (as did the prophets of Israel) but he realized that people are human, and most do not seem to learn from the failings of others. He hoped that Muslims would retain their original purity, but he foresaw that with time and power; corruption, decay and falsification were inevitable. Allah’s apostle would certainly attack the false tradition of female genital mutilation in Africa today as sharply as he attacked female infanticide in Arabia in his day. It is a shame that many Muslim leaders in Africa today do not aggressively condemn it. But then, most Jewish leaders in the west do not aggressively condemn the Orthodox for not allowing Jewish woman to divorce their husbands. We all have to do a better job.

Abu Huraira related: Two men, a Muslim and a Jew, abused each other. The Muslim said , “By Him Who gave superiority to Muhammad over all the people.” At that, the Jew said, “By Him Who gave superiority to Moses over all the people.” The Muslim became furious at that and slapped the Jew in the face. The Jew went to Allah’s Apostle and informed him of what had happened between him and the Muslim. Allah’s Apostle said, “Don’t give me superiority over Moses, for people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to gain consciousness, and behold! Moses will be there holding the side of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether Moses was among those people who became unconscious and then has regained consciousness before me, or was among those exempted by Allah from falling unconscious.” (Volume 8, Book 76, #524)

Gloss: Allah’s messenger is so well known for his sense of justice that a Jew can appeal to him even in a conflict with a Muslim who has attacked a Jew. It is only natural for Jews to think that Moses is the best, and for Muslims to think that Muhammad is the best. Muhammad rebukes the Muslim, telling him not to claim that Muhammad is superior to Moses because even on the day of Resurrection, Muhammad himself will not know their relative merit, for although Muhammad will be the first to be revived, Moses will already be standing there holding the side of God’s throne. Muhammad teaches us that comparisons of religious superiority are wrong, for no one in this world, and perhaps even in the world to come, will know who is the best.

Most Americans that I have spoken are amazed to hear such liberal and flexible statements coming from a religion that they think is ridged and fanatical. But the politicized Islam that has captured so much attention in the Muslim world today is the outgrowth of two recent factors. One is an anti-western reaction and scapegoating due to the great upheavals occurring in all modernizing societies in the 20th and 21th centuries. This reaction is inflamed as the result of several previous centuries of socio-economic decline that took place in the Middle East. Also Judaism and Christianity have already had reforming movements that took generations to bare fruit.. Islam is just starting the process of revival and reform. The Prophet had predicted that over the centuries Muslims would also become more rigid and orthodox, just as the Jews and Christian had. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: You will tread the same path as was trodden by those before you, inch by inch and step by step, so much so that if they had entered into the hole of a lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Do you mean Jews and Christians? He said: Who else?” Muhammad was wise enough to realize that even his own ummah was subject to the circumstances of history.

Nevertheless as a Reform Rabbi, I realize that in many ways Muhammad showed seventh century Jews in Arabia how to reform Orthodox Judaism to bring it back to the simpler rules of the Torah..

Unlike Orthodox Rabbis, Liberal/Reform Rabbis accept the doctrine of nullification – which teaches that one verse in scripture can nullify another, and that rulings can be changed due to changed circumstances. Muhammad provides an excellent example of this principle in the following account. The Prophet originally told women not to visit graveyards, but toward the end of his life, he said to them: “I had told you not to visit graves; now I am telling you to visit them.” The reason was that Arabian women used to wail at graves. The Prophet wanted this practice to be stopped. Therefore, he banned women from visiting graves to start with. After sometime, when Muslim women were better aware of how Islam wants them to behave in different situations, he allowed them such visits. In fact, the Prophet encourages visiting graveyards because such a visit reminds the visitor of his or her own death and the fact that they would have to stand in front of God when their actions are reckoned to determine their reward or punishment. Scholars like Ibn Qudamah, of the Hanbali school of law, make it clear that since this is the purpose of visiting graveyards, both men and women need such visits.

Another important teaching of the Qur’an is that God chose not to create human beings as one nation or with only one religion so that each religion could compete with the others in order to see which religion produces the highest percentage of moral and loving people. As it is written in the Koran [5.48] “For every one of you did We appoint a law and a way. If Allah had pleased He would have made you one people, but (He didn’t) that He might test you in what He gave you. Therefore compete with one another to hasten to virtuous deeds; for all return to Allah, so He will let you know (after Judgement Day) that in which you differed.” This is a wonderful further development of the teaching of the Biblical prophet Micah (4:5) that in the end of days-the Messianic Age “All people will walk, each in the name of their own God, and we shall walk in the name of the Lord our God forever.”

There is no conflict, nor can there be any conflict, between Judaism and Islam. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a territorial dispute. There are people who would like to make this territorial dispute into a religious one in order to rally support for their side. We must resist this. I believe that the Koran itself predicts the return of the Jewish people to the Land God gave to the descendants of Abraham and his two sons. I believe the reference in the Koran to the land of Israel in Sura V, where God says to Moses and to the Jewish people: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has decreed for you”, Koran [5:21]. More important for us today is the statement “WE SAID TO THE ISRAELITES AFTER HIM “DWELL SECURELY IN THE LAND OF PROMISE (THE PROMISED LAND) BUT WHEN THE SECOND OF THE WARNINGS COME TO PASS WE GATHER YOU TOGETHER IN A MINGLED CROWD BANI ISRAIL, Koran [17:104]. This refers to the return of Jews to the Land of Israel that is part of the great upheavals that proceed the age of the final judgment. The age we live in. The mingled crowd refers to both the Palestinians and the Israelis who will share the Promised Land together.

Neither side can claim it has the only right to the land or that its view is the only true one for as we have learned from the Hadith narrated Abu Huraira:The Prophet himself taught that even in the world to come it will not be clear if Moses or Muhammad is the supreme Prophet. Each is supreme for his own faithful community. A Muslim is one who submits to the will of Allah and believes that Allah has sent many different prophets to the many peoples of the world. As a Liberal/ Reform Rabbi I believe that Muhammad was the Prophet sent to the Arab people. I believe that the Qur’an is as true for Muslims as the Torah is true for Jews. Indeed, I love the Hadith Narrated by Abu Huraira that says, “The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah’s Apostle said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah, and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.’ ” Following Muhammad’s teaching I repeat that I too neither believe nor disbelieve in the Koran. I do respect the Koran very much as a kindred revelation to a kindred people in a kindred language. In fact, the people, language and theology are closer to my own people, language and theology than that of any other on earth. The strong support that the Qur’an gives to religious pluralism is a lesson that is sorely needed by the religious fundamentalists of all religions in the world today. As a well known Hadith says, “Prophets are brothers, sons of one father by co-wives. Their mothers are different but their religion is one.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

— Rabbi Allen Maller

Originally posted on The Islam Awareness Blog.

Rabbi Allen Maller is now retired after serving for 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. The introduction to his website shows he is no ordinary rabbi.

We welcome both Jews and non-Jews to our website. People are interested in becoming Jewish for many reasons. Being saved by believing in Judaism as the only true religion is not one of them.

Please explore the various articles on our website and feel free to ask questions. Indeed, if you do not have a questioning spirit Judaism is not for you. Many people find blessings through becoming a part of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Others find they are coming home. You may be attracted by your contact with a Jew or your study of Judaism. However you come to us we welcome you.

At his press conference to mark St Joseph Day, Paulo Coelho stated religions are not in conflict.

As Rabbi Allen Maller notes, the Koran recognises and preaches tolerance of other religions. Those who believed in the one God and did good had a special place, theirs was the path to salvation.

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in the last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from the Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

It is only bigots and extremists who preach intolerance, who think theirs is the one true path.

The Quran places an obligation on learning. Women were granted rights.

The Golden Age of Islam saw a flourishing of the sciences, of the arts, of poetry. Those who made advances in these fields were also devout Muslims, they saw no conflict.

The Prophet was far-sighted and wise enough to see his reforms would become fossilized in dogma and warned against this happening.

Saudi Arabia denounces pro-democracy protests as ‘un-Islamic’
Women and Islam
Reconciliation
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

Saudi Arabia denounces pro-democracy protests as ‘un-Islamic’

March 31, 2011
Saudi police

Saudi police

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “For every day on which the sun rises, there is a (reward) for the one who establishes justice among people.” — Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadith 870

We explain the signs in detail for those who reflect. — Quran 10:24

Saudi Arabia has denounced pro-democracy protests as ‘un-Islamic’. This follows the sending in of tanks into Bahrain to quash peaceful pro-democracy protests.

Saudi Arabia’s top clerics have condemned calls for protests as un-Islamic. The Council of Senior Scholars said that “reform and advice do not take place by protests or methods that lead to sedition.” The Council of Senior Scholars was formed by a royal decree in 1971 to issue religious rulings. In other words a mouthpiece of the corrupt House of Saud.

At the request of Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh who heads the clerics council, Saudi Arabia is now printing and distributing 1.5 million copies of the fatwa condeming protests as ‘un-Islamic’.

The Quran places an obligation on learning, on justice, it grants women rights.

In Reconcilliation, Benazir Bhutto argues a very strong case that Islam and Democracy are not incompatable.

Islam and democracy is not an oxymoron. Democracy, human rights, women’s rights, learning, knowledge, is not something alien imposed on the Musim world by the West, these are values that lie at the heart of the Quran.

The Quran says that Islamic society is contigent on ‘mutual advice through mutual discussion on an equal footing.’

An Islamic society, one based on the Quran, is a society that upholds the principles of shura consultation, ijma building or reaching consensus, finally leading to ijtihad independent judgement.

We see none of this in Saudi Arabia where women are treated as second class citizens, where the corrupt House of Saud rules the country.

There are those clerics who claim to speak for Islam, who denigrate democracy, who deny women rights, who deny women an education, who rail against science and learning, who endorse atrocities against other religious communities. Such clerics are a pervision of Islam.

The edict issued in Saudi Arabia is un-Islamic, it serves simply to keep the corrupt House of Saud in power.

Sheikh Gamal Qotb, former head of the Al-Azhar fatwa committee, has criticised the fatwa, saying peaceful protests help promote virtue and prevent evil. Sheikh Gamal Qotb has called the Saudi edict a big mistake, saying protesters warn officials of their mistakes before those mistakes grow larger. He said Muslim governments should allocate channels for citizens to express their opinions and give feedback to officials.

Al-Azhar is the highest religious institution in the Sunni Muslim world.

Pro-democracy forces are spreading in the Middle East. The sooner the corrupt House of Saud and the royal family in neighbouring Bahrain are toppled the better. The sooner the West kicks its addition to Midlde East oil the better.

The dicatators have fallen in Egypt and Tunisia. They are on their way out in Yemen and Libya. Next, the corrupt House of Saud, the Royal family in Bahrain?

Shura: A process of reaching a descision ie consensus involvolving all members of the community.

The 42nd Sura of Quran is named as Shura. The 38th verse of that Sura suggests that shura is praiseworthy but does not indicate whether or not it is mandatory, or who should be consulted:

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance” [are praised]

The 159th verse of 3rd Sura orders Muhammad to consult with believers. The verse makes a direct reference to those (Muslims) who disobeyed Muhammad, indicating that ordinary, fallible Muslims should be consulted:

Thus it is due to mercy from God that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon from them, and take counsel with them in the affair; so when you have decided, then place your trust in God; surely God loves those who trust.

Ijmā: the reaching of consensus. The hadith of Muhammad which states that “My community will never agree upon an error”.

Ijtihad: The process of reacing a judicial desicion based upon the evidence, not on tradition or doctrine.

Saudis print fatwa against protests
Saudi prints 1.5 million copies of anti-demo edict
Al-Azhar scholar criticizes Saudi edict banning protests
Saudi insists protests not Islamic, Facebook group calls for demos
Saudi Arabia’s senior clerics denounce protests as un-Islamic
Saudi Arabia imposes ban on ‘un-Islamic’ protests
Saudi Arabia imposes ban on ‘Un-Islamic’ protests
The Saudi women taking small steps for change
Women and Islam
Reconciliation

An atom’s weight of good

March 31, 2011
atom

atom

(On the Day of Judgment) all humankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their (past) deeds. Then whoever has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil shall (also) see it. — The Holy Quran, 99:6-8

At his press conference to mark St Joseph’s Day and to explain why he was hosting a party with friends that evening, Paulo Coelho said the question God would ask would not be of our sin but of our love. He also quoted from the Quran.

Andrew White ‘ the vicar of Baghdad’: ‘The vast majority of muslims are our friends’

March 31, 2011
Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White leans over his desk and – with a mischievous glint in his eye – prepares to deliver what I now suspect is a signature move when greeting new guests. Handing over a copy of one of his books, his face breaks into a wide grin as he asks: “Would you like me to sign that for you? I tell you what, I’ll use this pen. It was the same one used to sign Saddam Hussein’s death sentence.”

Such a macabre piece of historical memorabilia might appear an unusual keepsake for an Anglican priest but then Canon White – the so-called Vicar of Baghdad – is no ordinary clergyman. As pastor to St George’s, the only Anglican church in Iraq, Canon White has been on the front line of the most violent and barbaric persecution of a Christian minority in living memory.

Cut off from the streets of Baghdad by blast-proof barriers, razor wire and round-the-clock security, St George’s is one of the few churches still able to operate weekly services for the Iraqi capital’s rapidly diminishing Christian congregation. Scores of his worshippers have been kidnapped or murdered, and militants have routinely tried to storm the complex which lies outside the comparative safety of the Green Zone.

Canon White, 47, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has been shot at and kidnapped but still he returns, making sure to spend at least three weeks of every month with an embattled congregation that refer to him as their abouna (father).

The 6ft 2in, bowtie-loving priest spoke on a brief visit back to his picturesque home in a quiet Hampshire village which he shares with his wife and two boys (for security reasons he asks us not to give their names or location). The stopover was part publicity tour for his new book Faith Under Fire, part a chance to catch up with the family.

The Hampshire house is a pretty, single-storey family home in a quiet curving cul-de-sac, containing a theologian’s study filled with books and crucifixes from across the world. Work is a war zone 3,000 miles away, where Canon White is protected by 30 security guards. A place of sandbags and terror, particularly for Iraqi Christians, whose population has plummeted in the past 20 years from 1.4 million to just 300,000.

The fountain pen, which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki borrowed for a couple of days and used to sign Saddam’s death warrant, is a way of breaking the ice before talking about a subject that will inevitably be gruesome. We meet just days after Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet member, was gunned down in Islamabad and it is inevitable that the conversation quickly turns to violent persecution of Christians. “All over the world there are increasing threats against Christians,” Canon White says. “Bhatti’s death is deeply disturbing. But when you’re living in the midst of the fire like in Baghdad, it’s really what happens there that concerns you. We have had 123 people killed in Baghdad since November.”

Last year in fact was a particularly brutal year for Iraq’s Christians and 2011 looked like it was going to be no different. But in the past few weeks the killings have stopped.

As head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Canon White has built unparalleled relationships with Iraq’s senior Sunni and Shia clerics. In late January he gathered them in Copenhagen to issue a joint fatwa (religious edict) condemning any attacks on minority communities. “Until then Christians were being killed every day,” he says. “After the fatwa the killings stopped. It’s crucial to remember that the vast majority of Muslims we work with, they are our friends. We can only do what we do with their help.”

When he is not administering to his flock, it is these kinds of delicate negotiations between Iraq’s religious power players that occupy much of Canon White’s time in Baghdad. He has been a key negotiator in kidnappings including that of the IT worker Peter Moore, who was released, and Ken Bigley, who was killed. He has himself been taken hostage, held in a room where freshly severed fingers and toes littered the floor, and has negotiated for the release of countless Iraqis. The violence he has seen is harrowing. Does he ever lose his faith? “Never,” he says. “If anything, my faith has got stronger.” It’s a reply you often hear from religious people in conflict zones – but how can religion be a force for good when it does so much harm in these situations?

“I remind myself that if religion is a force for bad it is also a force for good,” he says. “If religion is the cause of this horrific violence then it is also the cure. The only way you will be able to stop this violence is engage with Iraq’s religions in a religious way. The best thing we can do is work with the Islamic leaders as most of them are not terrorists.”

Canon White places the blame for the violence against his congregants squarely at the feet of al-Qa’ida in Iraq, the primarily foreign militant network inspired by Osama bin Laden. “Those who instigate violence are mainly from outside,” he says. “There are certain people you simply can’t work with and the al-Qa’ida people fall into that category.”

But he is equally infuriated by Christian bigots and publicity seekers – such as the American pastor Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran. “Pastor Terry Jones is directly responsible for the murder of some of our people,” Canon White says. “They have no idea how terrible it was. Throughout the time he threatened to burn the holy Koran, they were warning us that our people would be attacked. Four of my guards were killed throughout that time. He can try and say from the safety of Florida he was trying to make an important point. But it was an important point that killed our people.”

Canon White was himself a supporter of the American-led invasion of Iraq, but after all the killing, the mutilations, the kidnappings and the mass exodus of Iraq’s Christians – does he still think it was worth it?

It’s the first time he seems unsure of himself. “I had one day in the whole of my life when I thought to myself, why did we do this,” he says. “But I remember what it was like in Iraq before the war, the fear people lived under.” Yet he adds: “But at least you could walk down the street.”

I press again, was it really worth it, so much violence, so many deaths?

“I had seen the terror of the Saddam regime and I knew there was absolutely nothing the Iraqis could do to remove that terror,” he replies. “It’s been hell. So many people killed. I still say the regime had to be removed but we should have done things differently afterwards.”

Regrets are a luxury Canon White cannot afford. He has a flock in Iraq to attend to. While a semblance of peace has returned for Baghdad’s Christians thanks to the joint fatwa, Canon White knows it is temporary. “From my years and years in Palestine, Israel and Baghdad I know that the majority of people can live together,” he says. “But you only need a few fanatics and it all falls to pieces.”

Christianity under fire

IRAQ In the past 20 years, the flight of Christians has reduced the community’s population from 1.4 million to 300,000.

EGYPT On New Year’s Day, 21 Copts were killed in a bomb in Alexandria.

PAKISTAN Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s only Christian cabinet member, was assassinated last week.

NORTH KOREA Christianity is vehemently prosecuted in North Korea, where any expression of religion in the totalitarian state is viewed as open insurrection against the Communist regime.

NIGERIA Sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians in central Nigeria has broken out with horrendous violence over the past two years in and around the city of Jos.

Originally published on The Islam Awareness Blog.

The Vicar of Baghdad
Copenhagen fatwa

BDS Flash Mob in Grand Central Station, NYC

March 31, 2011

As part of the Global BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) Day of Action commemorating Land Day, Adalah-NY: the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel surprised commuters in New York’s Grand Central Station with a song and dance. They performed to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, but with a little twist to remind people to boycott Israel.

Brilliant performance! What is even more brilliant is that it took place in the heart of New York, the heart of hard-line Zionism.

Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White
Picking olives under occupation
Nablus: The Business of Occupation
Peace Oil

Pomegranate juice

March 30, 2011
pomegranates

pomegranates

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. — Song of Solomon 4:3

Let us go early to the vineyards to see … if the pomegranates are in bloom – there I will give you my love. — Song of Solomon 7:12

I used to eat pomegranates as a child when I visited my grandmother. We used to scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

Then they kind of disappeared. In the last few years pomegranates have started to re-appear, but still are not very common.

In Istanbul I saw pomegranates everywhere, a small pomegranate the sort seen in England and a large pomegranate the size of a large grapefruit.

The pomegranates I saw in Istanbul were used for fresh crushed pomegranate juice, a fruit juice to die for.

Fresh crushed orange juice 2 lire, fresh crushed pomegranate juice 3 lire.

Pomegranate is a superfood, high in antioxidents (much higher than other juices, red wine and green tea), high in vitamins A, C, E and iron.

Thought to originally be native to Persia, pomegranates are now grown all over the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Pomegranates were one of the fruits brought to Moses to show that the promised Land was fertile

Pomegranates: the fruity panacea
11 Health Benefits of Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate in the Bible | Biblical Quotes About Pomegranates
22 Facts About Pomegranates
Carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice
Watermelon juice
100 Best Health Foods
SuperFoods

Love an ocean with invisible shores

March 30, 2011

Love an ocean with invisible shores, with no shores. if you are wise you will not swim in it. — Sufi Poem

Music ‘Fill Your Sails’ by Public Symphony from their album Inspire.

For my lovely friend Sian.

A picture at an exhibition

March 30, 2011
Rosemary for Remembrance - Ann Sinclair

Rosemary for Remembrance - Ann Sinclair

artists on closing day of U3A art exhibition at Guildford Institute

artists on closing day of U3A art exhibition at Guildford Institute

With apologies to Mussorgsky.

Sometimes a particular picture catches our eye, and so it was for me, one picture out of maybe a hundred caught my eye. It was a strange picture. It clearly had an Alice theme, but with dark Gothic overtones, hints of Edgar Allan Poe. I was intrigued and baffled. Why the cross and open grave as the centre piece of the picture? It was unfortunate the artist had decide to put glass over her painting as the refections made it nigh impossible to see the work. The title of the work, Rosemary for Remembrance, gave not a hint, far from it, as it seemed in no way connected to the painting.

I was in Guildford for the day, or at least lunch and the rest of the day. It was whilst having lunch at the Guildford Institute surrounded by paintings that I spotted this strange painting. It was part of an exhibition by Guildford U3A.

It was an altogether strange Alice cum art cum Paulo Coelho cum Orhan Pamuk day out.

My day started seeing an American lady looking rather lost outside St Mary’s. I stated the obvious that it was locked, and added that sadly it was rarely open. For her it was a pity as she was in Guildford for the day for its Lewis Carroll connections. There must be many disappointed visitors like her. More must be done to keep St Mary’s open. I like to sit in St Mary’s in quiet reflection, when I find it open that is.

I explained a little of the history of St Mary’s, told her Lewis Carroll had a house nearby and gave the occasional sermon in St Mary’s. And I gave her a couple of websites where more information could be found on Lewis Carroll and Guildford.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Lewis Carroll
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Lewis Carroll
www.heureka.clara.net/surrey-hants/ —> Guildford

I then had lunch at the Guildford Institute where I spotted the strange painting. It was part of an exhibition by Guildford U3A.

I always pop into the library, a lovely little private library. Chatting to a lady I suggested she read Paulo Coelho. I pulled off the shelves one of his books and gave her websites where she could find more information on the author.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Paulo Coelho

Leaving the Guildford Institute I chatted with a lovely young Spanish woman who was a keen fan of Paulo Coelho. I gave her websites where she could find more information.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Paulo Coelho

I was then in a bank, more Paulo Coelho fans.

Then a secondhand bookshop where I met a charming Indian who I had never seen before. Any books by Paulo Coelho? Yes. Please show me I said, knowing there were none. Oh, she said, there are none. I then explained I had bought all eight the previous Friday! It turned out she too was a Paulo Coelho fan and she told me that he was a very popular writer in India. She also liked Orhan Pamuk. I was impressed! I gave her websites for more information.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Orhan Pamuk

Fancying a cup of tea I thought I would pop in the little tea shop in Guildford House. It has been closed for weeks if not months. Apart from the Tourist Information that has now relocated to Guildford House it all looked closed, so I inquired, to be told, yes it was open. The tea shop was devoid of customers. Apparently few people had bothered to do as I had and inquired, they had walked past assuming it was closed. I asked had they been compensated for the loss of trade whilst Guildford House was closed. No, was the response, and they had still been charged rent!

Walking down the High Street I chatted with a lady who was just finishing a drawing of the Old Town Hall. She said she would be turning it into a water colour. She had come all the way down from Malvern for the day for this one painting. She showed me a photo of a painting she had done in Oxford the previous day. As she had lost her train times, I gave her my timetable, which I said would give her the times of trains from Guildford to Reading. I gave her a website for information on Guildford.

www.heureka.clara.net/surrey-hants/ —> Guildford

All in all, a very interesting day.

Alice

March 30, 2011
Alice

Alice

I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

If it had grown up, it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.

If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

You are old, Father William, your hair has become very white. And yet you incessantly stand on your head – do you think, at your age, it is right?

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

The adventures first… explanations take such a dreadful time.

We are all mad here ( The Cat)

Alice was posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog as his Character of the Week.

Alice is one of my favourite characters in literature, Lewis Carroll a favourite author.

Last summer I took my lovely friend Sian on a Alice day out in Guildford. We went to a dramatisation of the courtroom scene where Alice appears before the Queen of Hearts to determine who stole the tarts, we sat by the river and I read to Sian from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we had afternoon tea and cakes, and as a memento of the day I gave her a beautifully illustrated copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in order that she would always have fond memories of our lovely day out.

Yesterday in Guildford, I had an interesting Alice cum art cum Paulo Coelho cum Orhan Pamuk day out. [see A picture at an exhibition]

Alice and the Red Queen
Alice in Court
And what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?
Life of Lewis Carroll in Guildford
Legacy of Lewis Carroll

part of the ocean

March 30, 2011
artwork by Ken Crane

artwork by Ken Crane

There was once a wave in the ocean, rolling along, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the swiftness of the breeze.

It smiled at everything around it as it made its way toward the shore.

But then, it suddenly noticed that the waves in front of it, one by one, were striking against the cliff face, being savagely broken to pieces.

‘Oh God!’ it cried. ‘My end will be just like theirs. Soon I, too, will crash and disappear!’

Just then another wave passing by saw the first wave’s panic and asked:

‘Why are you so anxious? Look how beautiful the weather is, see the sun, feel the breeze…’

The first wave replied:

‘Don’t you see? See how violently those waves before us strike against the cliff, look at the terrible way they disappear. We’ll soon become nothing just like them.’

‘Oh, but you don’t understand,’ the second wave said. ‘You’re not a wave. You’re a part of the ocean.’

From The missing rose by Serdar Ozkan. Published by Paulo Coelho on his blog. Artwork by Ken Crane.